Pakistan is an agriculture country, but land holding is very small. The economy of Pakistan is mainly depending on agriculture and therefore, government tried to bring agricultural reforms. For this purpose, government permits the private sector for seed production to bring the public sector under competition. Seed is a carrier of genetic potential for enhancing the agricultural production by ten percent through improved varieties. For this purpose, a setup is required for the registration of improved novel varieties followed by certification and distribution. There are six classes or categories of seed on the base of seed generation system include Breeder Nucleus Seed, Pre-basic Seed, Basic Seed, Certified Seed, Approved Seed and Truthfully Labeled Seed.
After independence, seed industry is not so developed and farmer replanted his saved seeds of previous crops or interchanged with other farmers. In 1961, government established WPADC institution to produce and distribute the seeds which is the first organized and well planned step along with the responsibility of various agricultural activities but this department could not generate desired results and ultimately dissolved in 1970 because of weak linkage with research and plant breeding activities. In 1973, government established seed industry in collaboration with FAO but private not gave intention to the approach because of low profit.
Later on, government was given constitutional support in the seed act, 1976. The seed act provides regulatory and controlling mechanism to produce and distribute the improved seeds. With the enactment of seed act, National Seed Council and Provincial Seed Council were established at federal and provincial level respectively. Under National Seed Council, Federal Seed Certification Department and National Seed Registration Department were established. The responsibilities for seed production, multiplication, processing and distribution were given to public sector Seed Corporation in respective provinces. The National Seed Council is the supreme body in the country which is concerned with seed produced by public and private sector and this council is directly under the minister of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.
The public sector were allowed to produce and distribute the improved seed but could not met the demand of farmers for the improved seeds because of creating awareness in the community to use the certified seed. So to overcome this problem, private sector has inducted to produce and distribute the certified seed which was given better results because of high investment in the sector in comparison to the public sector. Because of this supportive policy, 755 registered seed companies are involved in this business which creates the healthy competition between public and private sector. The formal seed system is combination of private and public seed sector. On the other hand, farmers use its saved seed or exchanged the seed with other successful farmer under the informal seed system.
Certified seed produced under the official designated system to maintain the genetic identity of crop varieties and the distribution of seed after multiplication of various crop varieties. It is the progeny of registered or foundation seed (basic seed). It is grown to determine the germination standards, freedom from diseases and weeds. Certified seed is provided to the farmers by private companies and state seed corporation which is only 20 -23% of total required seed. NGO’S and farmer’s cooperation provide certified seed in negligible amount. The important point is the share of certified is gradually increases for main crops i.e., the share of certified seed of wheat is increases from 8% (1995-96) to 24% (2011-12).
Government passed bills which played vital role in development of seed industry in Pakistan. Seed Act of 1976 doesn’t provide the registration to the seed companies and neither restriction nor regulation for the farmers to use previous seed. The registration of seed variety is not conferring any right on the breeder. Under this act, approved seed easily certified. Unapproved seed production prohibited under seed rule of 1987. National Seed Council and Provincial Seed Council were established under this act. Federal Seed Certification Agency and National Seed Registration Agency were merged together to Federal Seed Certification and Registration Department 1997.
Under the draft amendment to Seed Act of 1976, the sale of certified or unapproved seed is prohibited and seed companies have to get registration with FSC&RD for seed business. Under the draft Punjab Seed Act of 1976, an energetic seed industry got legal support and this act vests the power in a broad based seed council. Only schedule crops are regulated by enacting this seed act. Draft Punjab seed Act of 1976 along with Seed Act of 1976 and its amendment don’t create IPRs.
The draft Plant Breeder’s Right Act is the first draft that is prepared, based on UPOV 1999 model law, to meet TRIPS requirements in 1999. Varieties that are novel and met DUS criteria are registered under this act. VCU criteria allow the plant breeder to get registration of new varieties rather than useful varieties. Registration conferring IPRs for twenty years for crop varieties and twenty years for trees & vines, and registration is also available for EDVs. Farmers have rights to save protected seed.
There are many other seed laws or rules are legislated include Seed(registration) Rules-1987, Amendment in Seed Rules-1987, Procedures, Direction and Seed Standard-1988, Pakistan Fruit Certification Rule-1998, Amendment in Pakistan Fruit Certification Rule-1998, Seed(Truth in Labeling) Rule-1991, Amendment Seed Rule-1991, Seed Amendment Bill-2008, Plant Breeder Rights Bills-2008. Now government should ensure the implementation of these legislations to promote seed industry in Pakistan which ultimately result in improving the agro-based economy of Pakistan.
(Department of Plant breeding and Genetics)